“I received a letter just before I left office from a man. I don’t know why he chose to write it, but I’m glad he did. He wrote that you can go to live in France, but you can’t become a Frenchman. You can go to live in Germany or Italy, but you can’t become a German, an Italian. He went through Turkey, Greece, Japan and other countries. But he said anyone, from any corner of the world, can come to live in the United States and become an American.”
-President Ronald Reagan
The Trump administration is again using America’s children as pawns, unfairly pushing harsh policies to push his own agenda. Proposals last Sunday threaten to derail efforts to protect the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) applicants from deportation. 800,000 of young immigrants, many of whom were brought into the U.S. illegally as children, are being exploited in a deadly game of cat and mouse.
It is un-American to link the fate of Dreamers to an unreasonable anti-immigrant wish list. Congress must immediately pass the bipartisan Dream Act independently, and on its own merits. With Democrats threatening gridlock in Congress, it is the American people who suffer most when this impasse happens. Playing the Trump card has taken on a mean-spirited meaning.
The President’s unreasonable demands include overhauling the country’s green-card system, hiring 10,000 more immigration officers and building the quixotic wall along the southern border. Trump administration officials said the President will insist on their passage in exchange for supporting legislation that would extend the DACA program.
The specific list include limiting family-based green cards to spouses and the minor children of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents and creating a point-based system, boosting fees at border crossings, make it easier to deport gang members and unaccompanied children, and overhaul the asylum system.
It also includes new measures to crack down on “sanctuary cities,” which don’t share information with federal immigration authorities, among other proposals — like New York City. The ability of federal, state and local authorities to detain illegal immigrants would be fully enshrined in law. Visitors who come legally but overstay their visas, would now face a misdemeanor penalty.
“These priorities are essential to mitigate the legal and economic consequences of any grants or status to DACA recipients,” White House legislative affairs director Marc Short, unashamedly and inhumanely, told reporters. “We’re asking that these reforms be included in any legislation concerning the status of DACA recipients.”
Initiated under President Barack Obama, DACA protected and helped 800,000 young Americans, helped them to emerge from the shadows, and shielded them from deportation. It allowed them to continue working legally in the U.S. Trump announced a phase-out of the program last month, but he has given Congress six months to come up with a legislative fix, but it is an inhumane proposal that makes these innocent lives unwilling pawns in the vicious game of politics.
In a joint statement, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said the list “goes so far beyond what is reasonable” and “fails to represent any attempt at compromise. The administration can’t be serious about compromise or helping the Dreamers if they begin with a list that is anathema to the Dreamers, to the immigrant community and to the vast majority of Americans. If the President was serious about protecting the Dreamers, his staff has not made a good faith effort to do so,” they said.
Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, is justified in accusing the administration of trying to “use Dreamers as bargaining chips to achieve the administration’s deportation and detention goals. Congress should reject this warped, anti-immigrant policy wish list. Immigrants are humans; we should craft policies that treat them as such.”
Mr. President, you can, and must do, better!
Note: Albert Baldeo is a civil rights activist and community advocate. As president of the Baldeo Foundation and Queens Justice Center, he has continued to fight for equal rights, dignity and inclusion in the decision making process. He can be contacted at the Baldeo Foundation: (718) 529-2300.